Seniors with Alzheimer’s may eventually lose the ability to talk during the later stages of this progressive condition. This can be heartbreaking and even a little frustrating at times. However, there are still ways you can continue to communicate and interact with a senior loved one even after he or she has reached a stage where it’s not possible to verbalize thoughts, wishes, or feelings. Here are some tips to consider.
Use Gentle Touches
Hugs and gentle touches on hands, shoulders, and cheeks can show your loved one you care. Doing so may also inspire him or her to do the same thing in return to show appreciation. However, before you touch your loved one, announce it first to avoid startling him or her (e.g., “I’m going to give you a hug now because I love you”). Do the same thing when helping with bathing, grooming, dressing, and similar tasks.
Look for Nonverbal Cues
An inability to talk means your loved one won’t be able to clearly tell you if he or she is uncomfortable or experiencing pain. It’s important to be mindful of nonverbal cues that can let you know if this may be the case. Pay particular attention to:
- Unusual or distressing sounds or vocalizations
- Facial expressions suggesting pain
- Unusual body movements
- Times when he or she appears to be purposely avoiding certain parts of the body (e.g., always leaning to one side when sitting)
Living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can make it difficult for seniors to manage daily tasks without assistance. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Approach from the Front
Seniors in later stages of Alzheimer’s tend to be sensitive to changes in their immediate environments. Minimize this issue by approaching your loved one from the front so he or she has a chance to process what you’re doing or saying.
Don’t Assume Not Talking Means a Lack of Understanding
A nonverbal person with Alzheimer’s isn’t necessarily incapable of comprehension. Even if everything you’re saying isn’t fully understood, assume your loved one still has a general understanding. Remain respectful at all times, and avoid talking as if your loved one isn’t there or unintentionally talking down to him or her.
Get to Eye Level to Increase Comfort & Comprehension
Walking around or doing tasks such as making a bed when you talk to your loved one may confuse, frighten, agitate, or annoy him or her. Instead, get down to eye level when you need to convey something important. Watch your loved one’s eye movements to get a better idea of whether or not you’re being understood.
Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Highland Park Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.
Ask “Yes” or “No” Questions & Look for Nonverbal Responses
Even during the more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, some seniors are still able to understand and reply to basic questions in some way. If this is the case with your loved one, ask simple questions that only require head nods or shakes to indicate “yes” or “no.”
Use Music for Communication/Relaxation
According to Alzheimers.net, musical appreciation and aptitude are two of the last remaining abilities in people with Alzheimer’s. You may be able to use music to trigger happy memories for your loved one or help him or her relax. And if your loved one is still mobile, dancing to his or her favorite tunes can allow both of you to express love and appreciation nonverbally.
Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who don’t have experience in providing Alzheimer’s care. Highland Park Home Care Assistance provides Alzheimer’s care seniors and their families can depend on. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. To learn about our high-quality in-home care services, give us a call at (214) 363-3400 today.